Before Stein won the 2016 election and became North Carolina’s attorney general, he was also a fact witness at trial for those attacking North Carolina’s election integrity statutes in federal court.
Lawyers are prohibited by ethical rules from acting as both a fact witness and an attorney of record in any case. The proper course for Stein was to recuse himself, not file a motion to dismiss a Supreme Court appeal to preserve voter ID
Legislators in North Carolina have filed this pleading with the United States Supreme Court in the voter ID fight. It challenges the decision by Stein to sabotage the voter ID appeal. It states:
This motion is intended to ensure that North Carolina’s 2013 election reform laws—including a photo ID requirement—receive their due defense in this Court, notwithstanding North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein’s unauthorized (and ethically questionable) effort to withdraw the State’s pending petition for certiorari.
After his inauguration in January, Stein filed a motion to outright dismiss the appeal of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling striking down North Carolina’s voter ID law. Stein never consulted with his client — the legislature — before filing the motion to dismiss. The legislature had also retained a private firm to defend the voter ID law and Stein’s motion to dismiss the appeal involved a notice to that firm that they could no longer represent the legislature.
Stein’s conduct would effectively terminate an election-integrity package designed to fight proven voter fraud in the state. For example, lax same-day registration had allowed scores of illegal votes to such a degree that at least one election had to be done a second time.
Most troubling, the legislature’s request to the Supreme Court notes that Stein was a fact witness in the very same case when he was a sitting state senator. Stein testified as a fact witness for the plaintiffs attacking voter ID and election-integrity laws.
Lawyers cannot represent clients in cases where they also serve as a fact witness at a trial.
North Carolina rules of professional responsibility govern lawyer ethics. A lawyer may be disbarred for violating them, as long as a complaint is filed against them.
The brief filed to the United States Supreme Court has a long list of professional ethics rules Stein has violated.
As a North Carolinian, this is news to me.